Monday, June 24, 2013

Paul Simon: A Life

paul simon guitar pic

  I love music. A few years ago, through my parents, I came in contact with the work of Paul Simon. I immediately liked some of his songs, especially some Simon and Garfunkel songs. Most notably, The Boxer. Over the past couple years my appreciation for his music has flamed into all-out devotion. I just love it. I love the lyrics, the poetry of it—the originality of the music. I am a lover of many different things—the world fascinates me to no end. It is always new. And the way Paul Simon blends so many different sounds and just sings to my soul in a way that goes deep, but burns with the fuel of life in all its bigness and beauty. It's safe to say that I think he is the one of the greatest musicians that will ever be. He is a personal music-idol.
paul simon fur hood pic

  But something that irritated me, was that I was having a hard time finding an in-depth bio on him. I wanted to know more. Wanted to know who this person was, what his roots were—not just what I could read in his music. I wanted his history. To know the artist.

  So when I found Paul Simon: ALife, by Marc Eliot, I was beyond thrilled. To say nothing of actually finding it at the library! I just devoured the book. It was so real, so personable, simple. It breathed life into my meager knowledge of the music industry of Paul Simon's (and on-going) time, and for my understanding of the artist himself. It is times when I read bios like this that I feel like they are the fodder for authors looking for ways to figure out their own fictional characters—these are real. And we get a more intimate understanding, which feeds into understanding characters we create. If anyone asked me what book would I suggest for reading up on Paul Simon, I would advise this in a heartbeat. With all the things we love about the artist, and those who were/are in his life, there are those flaws that we know just fills the everyday. Things we don't like, but can understand—others we can't. Some things we can't love them in spite of. Because it is this utter humanness that makes them so special—because it is what they breathe into their art. And that, in turn, is what makes it so big. So larger than life.

paul simon recent picture

  Who can't be touched by BridgeOver Troubled Water? It is a song to sing as a testament of your devotion to another, in a way that is so simple, sincere--sweet. And who doesn't understand the gutting pain of The Boxer? Every human being who has walked the earth is a boxer—they have had their dreams, and have suffered the beatings life throws them. But still humanity remains in the ring. Still going. And there are so many other songs, that are just a wild celebration of life as it is.

  So what is there not to relate to in the words Paul Simon has to share? I have a high mark to strive for in my own music. An incredible example. I have my eye on a gorgeous guitar that has my name all over it, and my fingers can't wait to strum its strings, to breath life into its voice. I can only strive as high as others have done. I have no excuse to not give it my gut-wrenching best, to walk the road of those who have gone before, and are still walking.

  Go and get the book, and tell me what you think! Paul Simon: A Life is available on Amazon.

~ E. C. Shore

famous Paul Simon picture

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Amber Koneval~Drunk Dialing the Divine

Drunk Dialing the Divine
 This is an introduction to Amber Koneval, writer of Drunk Dialing the Divine.
  Just like many of my fellow writer buddies, I am a Goodreads fan, and recently I met Amber Koneval there. She is a poet and women's fiction writer, with a new poetry book release, “Drunk Dialing the Divine”. (Awesome title, right? I know it certainly would catch my attention)!

As part of her book tour, I agreed to cohost and do an interview. Here it is! And at the end of the post will be a giveaway for her book, so don't forget to enter, and share the news with your friends!

When did you first begin writing? Tell us a little bit about yourself.

AK: I first began writing when a teacher forced me to back in middle school. I hated it then, to be honest. I really didn’t start enjoying it until I decided to take a Creative Writing class on a whim in high school. Figured it would be an easy A. But the teacher was just so passionate and open about the different ways in which poetry could be written, and so encouraging, that I ended up really wanting to be good about it. For a while after that, I wrote basically mimicking other poets that I read. Only recently have I begun to really own my own style and be able to defend myself in my writing. It’s nice.
About myself- I’m the middle child of six. I’m Roman Catholic, and very Irish. My only pet is a royal (also known as ball) python named Seviper. I love cats, though. I write both poetry and fiction, under separate names. I’m about to graduate from college this December, with a double major in English and Religious Studies through the Honors track.
Amber Koneval Drunk Dialing the Divine

What places can we find you at?

Physically? I hang around Denver, Colorado where I live- so the Innisfree Poetry Café, or the Tattered Cover on Colfax for Open Mic Nights.
Electronically? I have a website (, Blog ( and Tumblr ( I’m also on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as having profiles on Poets & Writers, the Colorado Poet’s Center, and plenty of other writing sites.
So when did you begin putting together “Drunk Dialing the Divine”?
I started putting together ‘Drunk Dialing the Divine’ while I was in the middle of shopping a full manuscript of all of my poetry called ‘To My First Love at Midnight’ sometime last May. I ended up realizing that a) a lot of presses were rejecting my manuscript because of the religious poems included and b) I wrote a lot more religious poetry than I thought I did. I realized that I would be better off writing my religious poetry and my autobiographical poetry separate. So I pulled out all of my religious poetry and started seeing how I could put it together. I ended up finding this theme with my earlier religious poetry that surrounded around a sense of anger and confusion- so I decided that my first collection would be about that. It was the starting point of my own faith journey, and so it would be a fitting start for my religious poetry collections.

How would you describe it to a reader?

It’s not ‘common’ inspirational poetry, but it’s not blasphemy either. It’s this in-between kind of collection. If it was a person, I would suppose it would be that kid you know at church who wants to be religious, really does, but just doesn’t have the confidence or the trust in order to put their faith wholly in God- but then goes to a retreat where she realizes that she doesn’t have to give up her doubt in order to have faith. That doubt and anger can, in their own ways, be indicative of a strong relationship with God- if we have the courage and humility to be honest about how we feel
with our Creator. It’s poetry you give to someone who is struggling, but doesn’t want to be patronized or told to just pray it away. It’s a story of the beginning of a true relationship.
Drunk Dialing the Divine

What was the inspiration for it?

There’s a poem in the collection of the same name that I usually cite as the inspiration of the collection as a whole. A friend called me at three a.m. one night, drunk as a skunk- but instead of doing the usual awkward asking for sex or random rambling, he all of the sudden, very clearly, asked me to pray for him. It’s a moment that’s really held me for some time. It’s given me a lot to think about- was this guy blasphemous for daring to speak of God when he was very obviously blasted, or was he holy for having God as the first thing on his mind, even when gone? How do we ourselves treat people who call out for God’s help at their lowest points? Do we scoff at them for being bandwagon Christians, or do we commend them for seeking His grace? I’ve seen plenty of people do the first, and less the second- even to themselves. So many people get so down on themselves for wanting to believe in God but being mad at him, or making a mess of their lives but still wanting to pray. I wanted to explore this idea of struggling in God meaning being completely honest with oneself and with one’s God- it being okay to be angry or lost or confused, as long as it’s dealt with constructively, and in love.

What is the poem most definitive of your work? Most important to you?

Oh, jeez. I’ve written more than four hundred poems over the past couple of years, and I will never be able to answer that question. My work is always changing, just like I am, so there’s no real ‘definitive’ poem. Also, what is ‘most important’ to me changes every month, because I’m in a different emotional state every month. Right now, that poem would be ‘Our Lady of the New Advent’, which is forthcoming in an issue of St. Austin’s Review. I have a deep devotion to Mother Mary, and my reflection poems regarding her and prayers invoking her help are most helpful to me when I really feel lost in my own calling and feel weak as a woman. Focusing on her and her role in salvation history is a source of strength for me, and I need that right now. So that poem is most important to me today. Tomorrow, it will be something else.
Drunk Dialing the Divine

What are the stories, historical or fictional, that inspire you most?

Fairy-tales. I love fairy-tales. I love the way that they are, or can become, applicable to every situation in almost every culture with just a tweak here and there. In my fiction writing, I myself re-tell fairy-tales in order to bring awareness to women’s issues.
I also really enjoy re-tellings or historical fiction regarding Biblical stories (like the Red Tent, or the Bad Girls of the Bible series). A lot of people tell me that those things are campy, but I honestly thing that these stories continue the work that the Bible itself does- bring the revelation of God to His people where they need it, and in a way that becomes understandable in today’s context.

Do you have a pattern for writing that you've formed? Do you like to listen to certain kinds of music while you write? Do certain kinds inspire you?

I bring my little notebook with me everywhere, so that I can write whenever I’m inspired. I tend to write an entire stanza in my head before I’ll put it down on paper, though. But I write in weird places- in class, at concerts, in movie-theatres, during dinner, at Church. I like to catch in-the-moment feelings as much as humanly possible. So I tend not to have any fixed routine that would prevent me from writing the second inspiration hits.

What do you hope to accomplish in the next few years, and in the future?

I hope to publish my next two collections to complete my ‘faith journey in poetry’ pseudo-trilogy. It’s taken a bit of a back burner in regards to my fiction writing at the moment, but once I graduate college here in the next semester I’m going to have plenty of time to finish those up. I really would like to be able to live off of my writing, but that’s not going to happen if I don’t work hard every single day from here on out. If I have to work, though, I want to continue to work for the Church, particularly as a youth minister or sacristan. I love working in a faith environment. It's comfortable and challenging.
What can we expect to see of your writing over the next few years? Anything particular you're working on?
Right now, I’m working on getting my second collection published- it’s a collection of poetry that I wrote while on a missions trip to Kenya in 2010, when I thought I was dying. It’s a continuation of my faith journey- first I had to deal with the anger, then I had to really get outside of myself and my comfort zone to see the bigger picture. I’m also compiling my third collection, which will take the lessons learned through the first two collections and show the continuing struggle to apply those lessons to daily life in devotionals and applying blanket lessons about faith to bizarre situations (that happened to me) that challenged what I thought I knew and my capacity to love and trust.

I really enjoyed getting to know Amber. I suggest that you all visit her website, read her book, and tell me what you think! It's certainly on my list!

E. C. Shore

Friday, June 14, 2013

On the Subject of Magic in Fiction~Longish

Hey guys, just wanted to share a link to an article my friend Longish wrote on the subject of "Magic in Fiction", partially inspired by the article I shared recently, from I found it very good. It can be found here.

  ~E. C. Shore

Thursday, June 13, 2013

These Things Obviously...Take Time

  I have not written in a LONG time. I do apologize for that. I was at a loss for awhile, when it came to my writing posts. And of course, one must not sure what is not coming directly from the heart. But enough of that.

  During my  last few weeks, I've gone on a great trip to San Diego, and just recently opened an Etsy shop, Transcendence Designs. So I have been one busy camper! My writing had been put on hold for awhile, but I've been able to get work going again...with redoing the beginning yet again. But I can honestly say I love this new version. It just feels right.

  I realized, after I had gotten a ways into writing my last draft of the beginning, that I wasn't showing who Alexis really was--what she was doing to keep her family afloat. And I realized how much of a better impact actually showing her plowing those fields and earning extra money by the sweat of her brow would mean to the story. The reader would actually get a feel of how hard and how passionate she is about doing whatever it takes to keep her family from losing their home. And not only that, showing this can also be a reflection of something that comes later--how she fights for a different people. Just by doing simple, but hardworking things. Although they turn into something bigger as the story goes on.

  But don't the big things in life get reflected by the simple, day-to-day things? Don't we see who a person is by the actual work of their hands?

  And another thing--why on earth did it take me six years to get this part of the story in my head?

  Would love to hear your comments and personal stories on THIS universal subject. Leave your comments below!

  ~E. C. Shore

P.S. Just as a piece of excited nerdism, the first teaser trailer for The Desolation of Smaug is here! Here is the link! Needless to say, it is AWESOME.